News on the Radar: 4/7/21

Here is a brief round-up of information and news that crossed NCWIT's radar recently and which we think will be of interest to you. The practices or content of the news gathered (while not endorsed or vetted by NCWIT) is meant to spark new conversations and ideas surrounding the current diversity statistics and trends in the tech workforce. We encourage you to add your two cents on this month's topics in the comments below.

Did you know that support from educators and peers helps girls persist in computing? 

A recent article by Jennifer Snelling, posted on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) blog, explored the factors that help middle and high school girls persist in computing programs, despite the obstacles they often encounter. Bias, stereotypes, and a lack of visible role models are some of the challenges that can dissuade girls from pursuing an interest in technology. However, support from educators, parents, mentors, and peers can help students overcome those barriers. “Girls who’ve had mentors are 2.5 times more likely to be confident in their ability to succeed in school and careers,” Snelling notes. Activities that allow students to develop a sense of community with peers who are also interested in computing can make a difference, too. NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community Member Diya Nair, who was interviewed for the article, reflects, “My teachers and things like NCWIT helped boost my confidence. I’m one of two girls in the [Innovations Club], but we keep our heads high. We know we are needed and valued.”

NCWIT has a wealth of resources for educators and family members who want to encourage girls to explore computing:

  • For those who are looking for ways to attract more girls to extracurricular computing activities, this webinar gives some practical advice for identifying target audiences and their influencers, creating effective messaging, and making programs more visible.
  • This resource dives into the vital importance of encouragement, and offers a variety of ways that parents, educators, coaches, and other adults can use encouragement as a valuable tool to support girls in computing.
  • This resource gets hands-on with the Top 10 Ways Families Can Encourage Girls' Interest in Computing. 
  • This set of virtual décor elements can help educators ensure that their classrooms are welcoming spaces, even when they’re online. 

Explore more free and easy-to-use resources at www.ncwit.org/resources.

Did you know that the impacts of COVID-19 and racism have affected different demographics within the computing field in different ways?

Recently, NCWIT teamed up with AnitaB.org and the STARS Computing Corps (STARS) to conduct the Investigating Compounding Impacts of Racism and COVID-19 on Learning and Employment in Computing & Technology (CIRCLE-CT) Study. The first set of results from this study was published last month (February 2021). The study was designed to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the heightened attention to racial justice on the computing community, including technologists who work in industry, those who work and study in the nation's colleges and universities, and those who teach computing in K-12 schools. While responses differed for industry and academia, at that early point, academics were reporting increased workloads and respondents in industry were reporting lighter workloads. Nearly everyone who responded reported that they had been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, “the impact was significantly different for individuals depending on their gender, being a racial/ethnic minority within the field of computing, and identifying as LGBTQIA, including the intersections of these identities. Consistently, when there were significant differences, the underrepresented and minoritized groups were having worse experiences.” The study also found that although many participants reported that their organization had responded to the racial justice movements in summer 2020 with public statements in support of anti-racism or some form of training or awareness event(s), fewer respondents reported “institutional and systemic changes” at that point. Findings from Survey 2 will be published soon.  

Reports like these help to clarify the ways in which various groups are impacted differently by phenomena such as the global pandemic and structural racism. For more background on this topic, the NCWIT resource Intersectionality in Tech 101 offers an overview of the concept of intersectionality as it applies to women and girls in the tech field. This resource also explains why it is necessary to consider multiple, intersecting aspects of identity (such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, ability, sexual orientation, and more) in any effort to broaden participation in computing. In addition, this blog post discusses some of the ways in which the pandemic places additional burdens on members of marginalized groups, as well as some of the unique opportunities that remote work offers to put more equitable practices into place.

Did you know that your peers have been selected as NCWIT award recipients?

Each year, NCWIT Academic Alliance (AA) awards honor community members for their extraordinary efforts to make the learning experience a positive one for their students. Two awards, one at the graduate level and one at the undergraduate level, recognize how mentoring and research can have a huge impact on a student’s success, and one award recognizes the critical need to recruit and retain women in computing, especially in the face of COVID-19.

With the help and generosity of sponsors and partners, AA awards support and further the impact of award recipients’ efforts. Additionally, many AA member representatives contribute to the selection process by reviewing proposals and nominations, and by serving on project teams to recommend winners. We thank all of you for your continued efforts; we could not do what we do without it! Read on to discover the inspirational work of your peers. (And, check back this summer for new award application opportunities, and consider participating yourself!)  


NCWIT Harrold and Notkin Research and Graduate Mentoring Award

The NCWIT Harrold and Notkin Research and Graduate Mentoring Award is given in memory of Mary Jean Harrold and David Notkin, in honor of their outstanding research, graduate mentoring, and diversity contributions.

NCWIT is pleased to announce Dr. Barbara Ryder from Virginia Tech as the 2021 recipient of the Harrold and Notkin Award. A strong proponent of increasing women’s full and meaningful participation in computing, Dr. Ryder co-founded the NCWIT Virginia and District of Columbia Affiliate Award for Aspirations in Computing in 2011. During her term as Head of the Virginia Tech Department or Computer Science, the percentage of women in the undergraduate program increased from 4.2 percent (Fall 2007) to more than 16 percent (Fall 2016), reaching 19 percent in Fall 2019. In the words of her colleague Dr. Calvin Ribbens, the current Computer Science Department Head at Virginia Tech, “These dramatic results are testimony to the effectiveness of Dr. Ryder’s culture-changing work.” She is also an exceptional graduate mentor, having graduated 16 PhD and three MS students in her 34+ years in academia. Virginia Tech will be presented with a $5,000 gift to continue Dr. Ryder’s research.

If you know someone deserving of this award, consider completing their nomination materials in Fall 2021.

The Harrold and Notkin Award is sponsored by the NCWIT Board of Directors.


NCWIT Mentoring Award for Undergraduate Research

The NCWIT Mentoring Award for Undergraduate Research (MAUR) recognizes Academic Alliance representatives at non-profit, U.S. institutions (including U.S. territories) for their outstanding mentorship, high-quality research opportunities, recruitment of women and minority students, and efforts to encourage and advance undergraduates in computing-related fields.

NCWIT congratulates the four 2021 MAUR recipients:

  • Diba Mirza, Junior faculty member (Assistant or Lecturer rank—6 years or less) at Associate, BS, or MS granting university or teaching-track faculty at PhD granting university
  • Gloria Washington, Junior faculty member (Assistant or Lecturer rank—6 years or less) of research-track at PhD granting university
  • Damla Turgut, Senior faculty member (Professor or Associate rank—more than 6 years) of research-track at PhD granting university
  • Haiyan Cheng, Senior faculty member (Professor, Associate, or Lecturer rank—more than 6 years) at Associate, BS, or MS granting university or teaching-track faculty at PhD granting university

Check back in Fall 2021 to consider nominating yourself or a peer for this award.

The MAUR Award is sponsored by AT&T.


NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund

The NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund awards NCWIT Academic Alliance (AA) members at non-profit, U.S. institutions (including U.S. territories) with funds (up to $20,000 per project) to develop and implement initiatives for recruiting or retaining women in computing. To date, 71 member organizations have received a total of $815,450 to spark or grow their initiatives.

In response to COVID and its effects on education, the 2021 Seed Fund focused on online initiatives for building inclusivity within postsecondary computing and technology programs.  These included instruction, advising, recruiting, mentoring, tutoring, community building, or other online techniques to support diversity in their computing program (undergraduate- and/or graduate-level). 

Two Seed Funds of $20,000 each were awarded to support the following projects:  

  • Creating Welcoming Virtual Environments through Marketing and LMS
    College of St. Scholastica: Thomas Gibbons and Jennifer Rosato
  • Virtual Peer Mentoring (VPM) to Engage and Retain Underrepresented Minorities in Information Technology
    Georgia Gwinnett College: Lorraine Jonassen, Hyesung Park, Wei Jin, and Sonal Dekhane

Check back in Fall 2021 for details on how to submit your own proposal. 

The Seed Fund is sponsored by Microsoft Research.